As a paddler, you should be familiar with the following commands from your drummer and/or steersperson.
Generally this command will be used just before "paddles ready." The paddler should simply sit up right with the paddle resting on the gunnel at an angle ready so that when the "Paddle's ready" call is made all you need to do is raise your inside or top hand and rotate to get the paddle into position.
The set up paddle position, prepares the paddler to begin the stroke. The outer or bottom arm is parallel with the gunnel of the boat, and the inside or top arm lifted high and behind the head creating what is known as the "A" frame. The body should be rotated at this point with the outside hip forward and the inside hip back. Paddler's head should be over the bottom arm looking up the side of the boat.
"Back it Down"
Probably one of the first commands they will hear. On the dock or during a race, they will be asked to paddle the boat backwards to either help the Steersperson maneuver the boat, or position the boat in the start line.
"Take it Away"
If you are training, or in the simulation only, when the crew has paddles ready, they will be asked to commence paddling with this command. Each paddler should focus on the front of the boat and initiate the stroke with the front two paddlers as they start.
When the Steersperson wants the boat to "slip" to the side without moving backwards or forwards the Steersperson will ask one side of the boat, or parts of the boat, to draw the boat. This means that the paddlers, instead of pulling down the length of the boat, will lean out to the side and pull water towards themselves – like each has lost an object two feet to the side of the boat and is trying to scoop it back to him or herself. This is essential on the starting line, when winds may drift the boat sideways and the Steersperson is trying to line the boat up directly down the course. Both sides of the boat do not draw at the same time; to do so just leaves the boat where it is unless one side is pulling harder than the other.
"Pry or under the boat"
When the Steersperson wants the boat to "slip" to the side without moving backwards or forwards the Steersperson may also ask one side of the boat, or parts of the boat, to pry the boat. This means that the paddlers, instead of pulling down the length of the boat, or drawing the boat, will push the boat sideways. This is achieved by turning the paddle so that the blade is parallel to the gunnel, placing the blade into the water, and then scooping the water beside the paddle with a flip of the wrist.
This command is often used in conjunction with “Draw”. “Prying” pushes the boat in the same direction as the boat is being “drawn”. So if the right side is “drawing” the boat, the left side will “pry”.
This is essential on the starting line, when winds may drift the boat sideways and the Steersperson is trying to line the boat up directly down the course.
"Let it Ride" or "Let it Run"
When paddling, the Steersperson will ask the crew to stop paddling and rest. This command rarely has to be repeated.
"Hold the Boat"
Even if the boat is moving at full speed, the Steersperson may ask the crew to stop the boat from moving by placing the paddles in the water to act as a brake. However this type of command may also be used in moving the boat around and at lower speed. Crews should also be aware like other commands, that the Steersperson may ask only portions of the crew to do this depending on the speed of the boat.
"All Boats Hold"
You will generally hear this command on the startline when crews are preparing for a race. If a boat moves after this command the team may be awarded a time penalty therefore it is important the crew get ready to commence racing without moving the boat.
This is another start line command and follows the “All Boats Hold” command. The starter is telling all boats that the race is about to start and you can expect to hear a horn, or the word “go” within 2 to 10 seconds after the “Attention” command.